University of Southern California

Using California State Anti-Discrimination Law to Combat the Overuse of School Suspensions

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Note by Allison Fisher
From Volume 88, Number 5 (July, 2015)

88 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1197

The use of harsh, punitive disciplinary measures has become pervasive in our elementary and secondary schools. Many believe these “zero tolerance” educational policies, in which students are suspended or expelled from school for minor violations, are having disastrous effects on students across the country and are responsible for pushing many students out of school and into the hands of the juvenile justice system. Minority students, especially African Americans, have been disproportionately affected by these zero tolerance policies. With increasing success, advocates, parents, and students have been trying to change the way school officials discipline their students, though legislative and litigation efforts and grassroots community organizing. This Note discusses how advocates can use California’s anti-discrimination statute, California Government Code section 11135, to combat the disproportionate effect zero tolerance polices have on African American students.

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